Confessions of a Lost Lamb
Wandering away, but ever in the sight of God.
by Marcy Zipf
I was at fault for losing our home. I spent our mortgage money on frivolous things or on items to spoil my kids, then lied to my husband as to where the money had gone. I couldn’t make the payments on my car and was forced to give it back to the dealership.
Besides these pressures, Andrew and I fought constantly — about money, about repairs to the house not being completed, about our girls, and mostly about how I had fallen out of love with him. Our marriage of 17 years was in jeopardy of winding up in divorce court.
Looking back, I know that my greed and selfishness led to my family being evicted from a three-bedroom home to a two-bedroom trailer. But back then, consumed by my own self-centeredness, I refused to take any responsibility for it.
I told Andrew I was leaving him. Surprised and crushed, he insisted that he loved me, and he did everything — including going to counseling with me — to keep me from leaving. Through tears, he promised to fix what was wrong in our relationship.
Andrew’s sincere pleadings should have touched my heart, but they didn’t. I was a confused emotional wreck, totally removed from the feelings of others. My daughters (ages 18, 13, and 12) did their best to reassure me that they needed me in their lives, but I couldn’t see or feel their love. I blamed everyone around me for my unhappiness. I had become a bitter and angry person, too hurt to search my heart for truths about me. I resented being born and wanted a way out of my life, leaving my responsibilities and failures for someone else to clean up.
Loss of trust
From early childhood until age 17, I unsuccessfully survived sexual abuse. I say unsuccessfully because I carried the guilt and pain of the abuse with me for 40 years. Looking back, I can see that when I married Andrew, I was not prepared or mature enough to be a wife and mother. Together, though, we did our best to raise our three daughters.
But unbeknownst to Andrew, I lived in constant fear that my children would fall into the same situation I had. As a result of my past experiences with men, I withheld my true feelings and affections from my husband for all our married life. I trusted no one with my life or with the lives of my girls. Though I took them to church, answered their questions about Jesus Christ, and shared my belief in Christ with them, I wasn’t a committed follower of Christ. While I told my girls that they could pray to and trust in God, I didn’t trust God fully with their lives. How could I? He had abandoned me years ago as my mother had when I was being sexually abused.
Separation and solace
I left my children and husband, confident that they would be better off without me. I rented an apartment and lived apart from my family for eight months. During that time, I wandered around in a dark fog. I told myself and others that I was happy to be living alone, that I had done the right thing for everyone involved by leaving. I could not, however, fill the gaps of loneliness within my heart or bring light to the dark corners of my life or rid myself of the deep-seated feelings of being lost in the world.
Alone in my apartment, I sought different ways to bring solace to my mind and soul. I read books on how to cast spells that would bring “good spirits” of love, peace, and joy into my life. I lit candles and burned incense, berries, and sage offerings to unknown spirits hoping to cleanse my life and find joy. I even rearranged my apartment to bring balance and harmony into my living quarters by way of Fung-Shuy.
Weeks turned into months, and still a great emptiness enveloped me. In early July, eight months into my separation, I drove to Andrew’s trailer to pick up my two youngest daughters for the weekend. Along the way I passed a church with a message board that read “All you need is God.”
I actually laughed out loud, “Yeah, right! Where are You, God? Certainly not with me.”
I was exhausted from working double shifts in a nursing home dementia ward, but I’d promised the girls that we would go shopping while they were staying with me. It happened that their stay coincided with my having to confront a court magistrate. I had failed to convey to the magistrate my reasons for breaking my apartment lease. I was ordered to pay more than $600 in court costs and late fees for an apartment I used to live in. I didn’t have the money and knew that eventually my paycheck would be garnished to pay the debt.
I left the courthouse in tears. Lifting my head toward the sky, I intentionally stepped in the street and into the path of a truck. I looked into the driver’s eyes as he drove nearer, and I silently prayed for him to hit me. I just want to die. Hit me so I’ll be out of my misery.
The driver quickly stopped, and I walked across the street unharmed. By the time I reached my apartment, a chilling calm had filled my being. I knew that that night would be the last time I would see my girls alive.
I followed behind the girls as they chattered happily about what they wanted to buy. I watched them, detached, as though I were walking through a tunnel. As soon as I dropped the girls off at their father’s place, the sooner I could relieve myself of all the pain, anger, and disappointments in my life. My children wouldn’t have to look at their mother — a hopeless failure — anymore.
The 45-minute drive was a silent one. Though the car radio was playing, the girls didn’t sing to the popular songs as they always did. I fought off the tears welling in my eyes and couldn’t bring myself to look at them through the rearview mirror.
Depositing my daughters at their dad’s door, I didn’t tell them I loved them or say goodbye. I just waved to them. My oldest daughter poked her head into the car and saw a box of my belongings in the back seat. “Hey, Mom. Can I use your softball bat?”
“Take whatever you want. I won’t need that stuff anymore,” I said matter-of-factly.
Alone again in my apartment, I sat on the edge of my bed with a glass of water and a handful of prescription pills. As I swallowed them one at a time, I prayed, “God, I know what I am doing is wrong and that I have so much sin in my life. There is no one else I can turn to for help. There is no one who could understand my pain. Help me, Jesus. I’m so lost and frightened. Forgive me for not having the strength to go on living.”
The next morning I awoke groggy and angry with God. I sat at the foot of my bed and looked at my reflection in the mirror. Crying, I asked Him, “Why am I still alive?” I remembered my prayer and said out loud, “OK, God. What’s next? There is no one in my life I can trust. You are my only hope. You must have a reason for me to live, and it has to be better than how I am living now.”
Dazed and still under the influence of the pills, I dressed for work. As I carried out my duties, throughout the day in the dementia ward, a resident patted my hand. “You’re a lost little lamb,” she told me.
Her out-of-the blue statement startled me. “Why do you say that?” I asked.
She smiled warmly at me and answered, “I just know you are.”
Amazingly, I did not cry. God’s presence was in that room. I clung to the woman’s statement with all my heart. I finally realized I didn’t want to die. I was a sheep who had wandered off and had been found. I knew that God had forgiven me for the sins I’d confessed.
At the very moment I’d called out to Jesus for help, He answered. He heard me the moment I confessed that I had sinned against Him and that I was asking for His forgiveness.
And the moment I confessed to Andrew all the hurtful things I had done in our marriage and asked for his forgiveness, he forgave me. The girls did, too.
It has been a year since my suicide attempt, and still I feel God’s guidance in my life. He has given me purpose: to live for Jesus Christ. He is helping Andrew and me learn how to trust Him with our marriage. While God’s forgiveness does not excuse me from taking responsibility for the pain I’ve inflicted upon others, it does relieve me of guilt. I remind myself of what Ephesians 1:7 says: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (NKJV).
Growing stronger every day in my faith, I realize God had been watching me all the time I wandered and watches me today, safe at home.